LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Six deaths and a growing case count, now at 501, are all linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak.
Louisiana is one of only seven states nationwide with no reports of salmonella-related illnesses as of today. That's all the more reason the centers for disease control is urging people to check their pantries, since dozens of peanut butter-containing items have been taken off the shelves.
Concerns are growing and so is the list of companies that have issued voluntarily recalls of items made with peanut butter.
It was on January 8th that the CDC first announced an outbreak of a strain of salmonella of unknown origin that had sickened 388 people in 42 states. On January 14th, the federal government identified the source: peanut butter and concentrated paste from a plant in Georgia. Dr. Stephen Sundlof with the FDA says, "Strong evidence that points to that the Blakely, Georgia plant as the sole source of the contamination."
Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely, Georgia makes peanut butter and peanut butter paste then sells it to food companies and institutions like nursing homes and schools. Newly-released inspection reports show that this small Georgia plant has been cited more than two dozen times since 2006 by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Inspectors noted the dirty floors, duct-taped equipment, jars without lids and machinery caked with grease. Still, inspectors deemed that these violations were not significant since they were corrected on site before the inspector left the premises.
The plant was shut down January 9th, the day after the CDC announced the large salmonella outbreak. Products from as far back as June were voluntarily recalled. Investigators are still trying to figure out how and why the contamination occurred.